Schaub Team Blog

Leelanau Homes Still Pricey as Inventory Remains Tight

Posted by Ross Boissoneau on Feb 15 , 2024 - 10:31 am

Article by Ross Boissoneau for the Glen Arbor Sun, (Feb 15, 2024)


Steady and tight. Perhaps those are the bywords to describe the real estate market in 2023 in Leelanau County. Overall, the market continued to slow down from the pace of 2020 and 2021. While residential real estate sales in Leelanau County for 2023 bested those of 2022, those totals lag behind the number of homes sold at the height of the pandemic. There were 377 sales for a total volume of $273,320,611 in 2023. That topped the previous year’s 358 for $268,182,620, though the average sale price dropped slightly, at $724,988 last year from $749,113 for 2022. Those numbers tell a different story than those of the peak years of 2020, 2021 and 2022. In fact, it was in the pandemic year of 2020 that the county saw largest number of homes sales ever, with 564 homes sold—despite business being shut down almost two months. In fact, the number of homes sold each of the past two years is the lowest since 2011, when there were 263 homes sold in Leelanau County. There were a number of factors at play.

As the pandemic restrictions disappeared, so too did the rush to escape the cities. Inventory remained tight and construction prices continued to increase. The economy remained strong, but interest rates – which had been at historic lows – continued to increase. Leelanau homes still pricey as inventory remains tight It all added up to a solid if not spectacular year for many local Realtors. Some, such as Rob Serbin, owner of Serbin Real Estate in Glen Arbor, said they were pleased by the amount of business. “I was pleasantly surprised last year,” he says. He’s not alone. “It (2023) was actually my personal best year,” says Carolyn Telgard of Coldwell Banker Schmidt in Leland. Local Realtors who analyzed last year’s results anticipate more of the same this year. The tight inventory will keep prices high, but there likely won’t be as many multiple offer situations. “People are more cautious,” says Telgard. “Sellers’ expectations are high, but buyers are just more cautious, patient and particular.”

That doesn’t mean a downturn, just perhaps a return to a more normal market, albeit one that is still dealing with a lack of home inventory. “We still see demand. We have a strong list of clients looking (to buy) in this area,” says Jamie Jewell of Schaub Team Premier Realty in Suttons Bay. As the homes market tightened in 2020 and 2021, some turned to purchasing vacant land with an eye toward building in the future. Jewell says that market has also slowed, but there is still more demand than prior to the pandemic. “It sometimes would take years for vacant land to sell. It’s still strong, but not like 2022.” That market was perhaps tempered by the ever-increasing cost of building, with price estimates sometimes tripling over the course of the last four years. At the same time, however, contractors’ construction timelines have started to ease. With 2023 in the books, what is on tap for the rest of 2024? One change Realtors said they are seeing is a market that is more active in what used to be the slowest months. “The winter market is good,” says Jewell. That is due in large part to the advances in technology, where buyers and sellers alike have access to information they never did previously. “Consumers are very savvy,” says Roger Schaub, Schaub Team co-owner.

Online listings are available 24/7, virtual tours and videos showcase the homes similar to personal visits, drone cameras capture entire neighborhoods and beyond. The pandemic pushed electronic processing of real estate documents to a degree previously unthought of, where signing of documents could take place via email. Zoom became the new conference room. No one knows what technological breakthroughs may disrupt the industry next, but those Realtors contacted expect the market to remain strong, though likely not as frenetic as the last few years.

“It used to be that listings would sell for five to seven percent less than the asking price,” says Rob Serbin. “Currently more than half are at or above.” “Some can get into multiple offers (but) not getting 10-12 offers like before,” says Schaub. The fact that interest rates seem to be leveling off after steady increases should also encourage buyers, even those who are paying cash. “I don’t think they’ll ever return to 2½ or 3 percent,” says Telgard, though she’s not worried, as long as they don’t continue to escalate or return to double figures as they were in the ’80s. “People get used to a new normal.”

Serbin says there are advantages to properties not selling as quickly as they did. “If you don’t expose it to the market for a while, how do you know what you can get?” he asks. He says sellers who are patient will likely see the best return. Meanwhile, buyers who continue to do their due diligence will have a better chance to find the home of their dreams. Indeed, when looking at 2024, Telgard says the byword may well be patience. “Buyers are still anxious (to buy). I don’t have anyone feeling nervous about the market. The boom is still there, they just have to be patient,” she says. Then again, perhaps making any predictions is an exercise in futility. “The unexpected always happens,” says Serbin. “That’s part of the fun of this business.”